Article

Repetition suppression of ventromedial prefrontal activity during judgments of self and others

Department of Psychology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Impact Factor: 9.67). 04/2008; 105(11):4507-12. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0708785105
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT

One useful strategy for inferring others' mental states (i.e., mentalizing) may be to use one's own thoughts, feelings, and desires as a proxy for those of other people. Such self-referential accounts of social cognition are supported by recent neuroimaging observations that a single brain region, ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vMPFC), is engaged both by tasks that require introspections about self and by tasks that require inferences about the minds of others perceived to be similar to self. To test whether people automatically refer to their own mental states when considering those of a similar other, we examined repetition-related suppression of vMPFC response during self-reflections that followed either an initial reflection about self or a judgment of another person. Consistent with the hypothesis that perceivers spontaneously engage in self-referential processing when mentalizing about particular individuals, vMPFC response was suppressed when self-reflections followed either an initial reflection about self or a judgment of a similar, but not a dissimilar, other. These results suggest that thinking about the mind of another person may rely importantly on reference to one's own mental characteristics.

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Available from: Adrianna C. Jenkins, Aug 26, 2014
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    • "Exploring this issue was the goal of the current study. As in previous research on trait codes (Heleven & Van Overwalle, 2015; Jenkins et al., 2008; Ma et al., 2014a; 2014b), we presented a behavioral trait-implying description (prime sentence) followed by another behavioral description (target sentence). We created two conditions by preceding the target description (e.g., implying nice) by a prime description that implied the same trait, or a dissimilar competence trait which also differed in valence (e.g., unintelligent). "
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    ABSTRACT: This study investigates to what extent social and competence traits are represented in a similar or different neural trait code. To localize these trait codes, we used fMRI repetition suppression, which is a rapid reduction of neuronal responses upon repeated presentation of the same implied trait. Participants had to infer an agent's trait from brief trait-implying behavioral descriptions. In each trial, the critical target sentence was preceded by a prime sentence that implied the same trait or a different competence-related trait which was also opposite in valence. The results revealed robust repetition suppression from prime to target in the ventral medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) given a similar (social) as well as a dissimilar (competence) prime. The suppression given a similar prime confirms earlier research demonstrating that a trait code is represented in the ventral mPFC. The suppression given a dissimilar prime is interpreted as indicating that participants categorize a combination of competence and social information into novel subcategories, reflecting nice (but incompetent) or nerdy (but socially awkward) traits. A multivoxel pattern analysis broadly confirmed these results, and pinpointed the inferior parietal cortex, cerebellum, temporo-parietal junction and mPFC as areas that differentiate between social and competence traits.
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    • "6 One notorious instance of this is the " false-consensus effect " (see Marks and Miller, 1987 for a review); though see also Goldman (2006); Goldman (in particular Chapter 7) for a survey of all the ( " high-level " mind-reading) domains in which subjects have been shown to attribute their own perspectives and knowledge to others. 7 Intriguingly, humans have even been shown to recruit the same neural structures when answering questions about themselves and similar, but not dissimilar others (Mitchell et al., 2006; Jenkins et al., 2008). "
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    • "reater for socially close vs . distant others ( Table 1 ) . Beyond pain and reward , studies also demonstrate increased neural activity in regions engaged when reflecting about one ' s own thoughts and beliefs ( in the mPFC / vmPFC ) when mentalising about those of socially close vs . distant others ( Ochsner et al . , 2004 ; Ames et al . , 2008 ; Jenkins et al . , 2008 ; Rabin and Rosenbaum , 2012 ; Rabin et al . , 2013 ) . Perceptions of future selves appear to share characteristics with perceptions of others . Pronin et al . ( 2008 ) found that people predicted their preferences in the future would resemble those of others more so than their own preferences , suggesting that future selves are percei"
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